Lindsey Forrest: “tipping points”

You have to innovate and come up with new ideas to stand out. When my business started to gain traction, one of my clients who I did makeup for started talking with me about investing in my business. She commented that she thought the beauty industry was saturated — there were too many brands. However, she said […]

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You have to innovate and come up with new ideas to stand out. When my business started to gain traction, one of my clients who I did makeup for started talking with me about investing in my business. She commented that she thought the beauty industry was saturated — there were too many brands. However, she said knowing the uniqueness of my product made her think twice. It was something different that hadn’t been done before. We ultimately made a deal and the business has grown dramatically since.

This growth is a result of thinking outside of the box and innovating. It’s not enough to sell the same thing in a different package. That has been done before.

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Forrest of Flekk Cosmetics.

Lindsey is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert, and she has been working in the beauty industry for 15 years. She is extremely passionate about helping women find success in their beauty routines and experience more confidence as a result. Today, she resides in Arizona with her two boys.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Yes! Unlike most people who grow up dreaming of working in the makeup industry, I feel like it was something I stumbled upon. I was working in the fashion department at Nordstrom during college. I was always frustrated when customers would complain that the clothes didn’t fit right. Not wanting to lose out on sales, I would take them to the cosmetics department. Makeup always seemed to fit! After I graduated with my degree in Business, the store asked me if I wanted to stay and manage the Stila counter. Not really wanting to explore a career in Business, I said yes. I ended up working for Stila for over 7 years. I had many different roles within the company and found my passion.

When I look back at my earliest memories with makeup, I think of the first time my mom bought me lipstick. It was Wet and Wild! I also remember her taking me to the cosmetic counters. Every time she brought me home from those stores, I dove into the makeup and tried it on immediately. I think the passion for the product was there from an early age, but I had the fortune of finding it with a job opportunity in college. I feel very blessed this happened.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of the things that stands out the most for me — a moment that I’ll never forget — is when I first stepped foot in Bryant Park for fashion week. This makes me feel a little dated because they don’t have NYFW there anymore, but I can still picture the morning, the atmosphere, everything. I remember stepping out of the cab and thinking, “I’ve made it.”

When I was newer in the industry, my biggest goal was to make it to NYFW. I put pictures on my wall to inspire and motivate me. I really wanted to go there and thought it would be a defining moment in my career. I remember working so hard to network, improve my artistry and portfolio, and basically do whatever I could to make it there. At times I felt like I was close to getting there. Then, there would be setbacks, and I would feel very disappointed.

One day I finally got the news that I was going. However, I wasn’t scheduled for any shows at the actual “Mercedes Benz NYFW” in Bryant Park. The shows I would be working were at off site locations. I decided it didn’t matter and that I would still go.

The first show I worked I had to do makeup an entirely different way — fast, and surrounded by chaos. Everyone was taking pictures of my work and critiquing it in real time, and it was beyond stressful. I couldn’t stop sweating and I felt like I wasn’t succeeding at all. I remember feeling like I wasn’t up to the challenge.

Fortunately, I worked through it. I kept trying, and by some miracle they asked me to work more shows. I ended up working all the shows the team had scheduled, including the ones at Bryant Park. I slowly learned how to work under the pressure and got better every show.

I was invited back for multiple seasons of fashion week after that experience and eventually assisted the head artist. I kept many of my backstage passes for years as a reminder that not only did I accomplish my goal, but I was able to do hard things.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

My career has taken me in different directions, from makeup artist to consultant to owner of my cosmetics line, and I’ve seen multiple tipping points in each scenario.

With FLEKK, the biggest tipping point was changing the price. At the time, my business was in year two, it was breaking even, and it was experiencing very little growth. I was a single mom working multiple jobs and stretched very thin. I felt like I had very little time to devote to the business and was considering selling my inventory and throwing in the towel. The idea was devastating and very hard to swallow because I am just not the type of person to quit.

I’d always wanted to price test with Facebook ads, but I never had the money. My website designer/tech guru/FLEKK advocate suggested that I test the lower price I was considering during the end of the summer and see if it made a difference. She said, “No one will really be paying attention to your site at this time anyway, so if the lower price doesn’t work, you can mark it back up after a month goes by.” Well the price drop worked, dramatically. Sales rose more than I imagined.

I think what I learned from that and from all the “tipping points” I have experienced is you have to be willing to try. I love that quote from Michael Jordan, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I’m a big believer in effort, and I really believe if I didn’t persevere, the tipping point wouldn’t have happened.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes. I am always grateful for my mentor and colleague, Sarah Lucero, from Stila. She was my trainer when I first started at the Stila counter. We connected and she helped me grow my career for the next several years. When she was the head artist at fashion week, I assisted her. Much of my product designs are a credit to what she taught me when I worked at Stila.

When I worked with her, she treated me like a sister and valued my work ethic and skill. I felt very fortunate and looked forward to working with her daily. She basically taught me how to be a professional makeup artist. She helped me put together my first makeup kit. When that wasn’t good enough anymore, she took me to Larchmont Beauty to help me upgrade it. For the next several years, anytime she’d buy something for her kit, she’d make sure to get it for my kit, too.

I feel so fortunate to have had that kind of mentor and friend to work with.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! At FLEKK, I want to bring simplicity and ease to the beauty industry. I also want to make it easier for women to find quality products without having to go to the store. This is why we’ve implemented the quizzes on our website that help guide the consumer to the product they need. People are looking for these innovations. They have less time — less time for makeup and less time to go to the store.

I feel that consumers are much smarter than they were 10 years ago. They want to know what the product is going to do for them and why it’s beneficial. We want that to be seen right on our packaging.

Finally, I see our cosmetics company as more than just an online site to buy a product. I want it to be a resource. That’s why we offer a free course, provide videos, allow customers to send in selfies, etc. So much of the way people interact with each other is virtual in today’s environment. We want that to occur with our customers, too.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

The thing I am probably most excited about is that the landscape is changing. Traditionally, people shopped at a drugstore or at an expensive makeup counter. If you go to Ulta, you see this same trend. The store is divided — half drugstore, half prestige makeup. I find this very limiting. If you want to reach a certain customer, it’s hard to break into the business because competing at the drugstore level is difficult. Selling at the prestige level is also difficult because the amount of people willing to pay the high price point is less. Because so many people are shopping online, I don’t have to compete at either of these levels. The ability to control my price opens up so many doors for me and makes me competitive.

Makeup just gets better. I’ve seen it improve over the last several years and it just keeps improving. I don’t think I’ll ever stop getting excited for the new products that come out. The innovations that are created are always amazing. Products work better, they are better for you, etc.

The ability to reach all women. I think most people think beauty and they lump it into a category of the makeup lovers watching countless youtube tutorials. I could be wrong, and I get it, the goal is to sell a lot of makeup to people who like makeup. But there are so many women who wear makeup, don’t know a lot about it, and just want to feel more confident with it. I’m so excited that because of social media, the Internet, etc., we can reach more of these women. I’ve had so many people email and tell me they are wearing eyeshadow for the first time and they feel amazing. Isn’t that awesome?! To me, it’s a testament to what the modern beauty industry is offering to all the women everywhere.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

One thing that concerns me is that many of the makeup tips you see on social media are not realistic for everyday wear. People with a big following are seen as authorities in makeup, and then women wonder why they aren’t getting real results.

I’ve seen many makeup artists speak out about this, but fewer cosmetic companies are doing it. I think that cosmetic companies should educate the consumer so they have realistic expectations. This should be on the website so when someone who may not be an “authority” but has a big influence talks about the product, the website offers the right claims.

The other thing I have never liked about the makeup industry is the tactic of advertising or implying that you have to use all the products together or you won’t get the proper results. I see skincare companies do this. I also see this happen when people say you need the primer, foundation, concealer, and powder. I’ve felt that pressure to sell all of them together when I worked on the sales floor. However, I know from being a makeup artist that every individual is different and they may not need all of these products. I think it’s much better to sell them what they need.

I’d love to see more cosmetic companies supporting other cosmetic companies. I’m sure this is a dream that will never come to fruition, but every company likely uses something from another company. Cross promotion would likely be mutually beneficial.

Lastly, the other thing that concerns me is negativity. Since so much of the modern beauty industry happens online, it provides people with an easy forum to be mean. You see it on ads, reviews, etc.

I think as leaders in the beauty industry, we have a responsibility to be examples of how to treat people in this social environment.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

Yes! I never leave the house without blush! It always makes me look more awake. That’s why I love the new QUIKK Contour palette. It adds shape to your face and a little color in a matter of seconds.

Choose products that meet your lifestyle. You’re always going to feel the best when you are comfortable with the products you are wearing. Our FLEKK quizzes ask people if they prefer a barely there look or a pop of color. The reason we do this is because in order to recommend something, we need to know what type of makeup wearer they are. Regardless of whether I think you are going to look great in our more dramatic eye palette, if you are not comfortable with that look, you won’t love wearing it. This is completely ok!

Don’t waste time trying to look like someone else. Instead, focus on enhancing your best features. If you don’t know what those are, ask your friend.

My go-to product for making anyone look less tired and more awake is what I call an under eye brightener. It’s like a little pick me up in a bottle. You apply it under your under eye area like you would eye cream. There are many products that can do this and most of them are illuminators. Currently, I’m using an illuminating primer for my eye brightener.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

  1. Experience Matters

The barrier to entry into the beauty industry is much easier than it was several years ago. Anyone can set up a website and sell products online. You couldn’t do this when I started. However, don’t rush into it just because getting started doesn’t have as many hurdles as it used to.

Experience really counts. I’ve spent years building up my connections. The main reason I knew that the FLEKK step-by-step palette was something that would be valuable is because I started a consulting business teaching makeup to women after I left Stila. I taught thousands of women and realized there wasn’t an effective, easy-to-use solution for applying eyeshadow. During those consultations, one of the top questions I got asked was, “What brushes should I get?” I always recommended a set that I knew was within their price point, knowing they couldn’t afford my professional brushes. When they would come back for a second consultation and bring those brushes, I realized that they didn’t work at all. I also had to tape and mark many people’s brushes so they remembered what brush to use with what shadow. This is how the design for the product came about.

My experience is one of the biggest reasons I am successful. Everything I’ve learned is what I am applying now to build FLEKK.

2. Innovate

You have to innovate and come up with new ideas to stand out. When my business started to gain traction, one of my clients who I did makeup for started talking with me about investing in my business. She commented that she thought the beauty industry was saturated — there were too many brands. However, she said knowing the uniqueness of my product made her think twice. It was something different that hadn’t been done before. We ultimately made a deal and the business has grown dramatically since.

This growth is a result of thinking outside of the box and innovating. It’s not enough to sell the same thing in a different package. That has been done before.

3. Know Your Customer

During the early days of my business, I would sit and talk about who my customer was and try to define it. I didn’t have a ton of data from Facebook or customer sales yet, and so defining my customer was very important.

My brother who works for Walmart corporate gave me very helpful advice. He said, “Sure, your customers can be person A and person B, however, you need to fine tune your strategy around a specific person. This will improve your marketing efforts.” He was right. It’s harder to market to everyone and your message gets more confusing when you do. When I focused on a specific group of customers, the messaging improved.

4. If You’re Going to Sell Online, You Should Advertise

When I first started, I vastly underestimated how much we would have to advertise to sell our product. I think everyone wants to assume that their friends will tell their friends, etc., and it will just explode in a few months. #DREAMS. It just doesn’t work like this.

Much of our growth has come because of successful advertising. It took us a few tries to find the right ad team, but it has been more than worth it. If you are working with an advertising agency, I think you need someone who is honest with you and really wants to see you grow. The first company I worked for didn’t tell me the full picture of what was going on. They kept giving me false hope. I realized after we cut ties that they never tested the price or mentioned problems we were having on the website. I wish I would have pushed for more answers regarding the lack of performance because I would have been willing to improve some of the problems that I had control over.

5. Surround Yourself With Great People

I get told a lot that no one is going to care about my business like I do. It’s true. But the good news is there are tons of awesome people out there who will do a great job for your business. There are also many people who will be your cheerleaders.

My mom has listened to more hours than I can count of me talking about FLEKK. I bounce every idea, good and bad, off her. I’m sure there are days when she just wants me to be quiet or to change the subject, but she listens because she’s my mom and she’s great. My partners are anxious for FLEKK to grow and expand and that support has been amazing.

I have also worked with some amazing designers, creatives, shipping companies, etc. There’s a lot to juggle running the business, so handing a project off to someone you know is going to do a good job is so important. The business couldn’t succeed without these people.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think I’d want people to go do something for their friend or neighbor. This sounds silly, but nearly every Sunday since I was young I’ve been making cookies for people that live by me. I’ve made cookies for more people than I can count. I love doing it. I love giving the cookies away and I love making the people that get them happy.

I think if we all took the time to perform a small act of service for someone and maybe even “paid it forward,” the world would be a great place. We’d feel better and so would the people we serve. And to be honest, I think many people probably do this!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m a religious person and I love this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland. He says, “Don’t you give up. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying… Trust in God and believe in good things to come.”

I credit so much of my success to not giving up and also to being extremely blessed.

How can our readers follow you online?

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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